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  1. #1

    Default Road Trip East coast to West coast Sept 2013 in a hire car

    I am planning a road trip next year starting in New York and finishing in San Francisco. It's just my daughter and I and we hope to share the driving. We have a rough itinerary as follows:- Niagara Falls - Detroit - Chicago - Minneapolis - Fargo (ND) - Medora (ND) - Big Horn Canyon (Montana) - Yellowstone National Park - Salt Lake City - Gran Canyon - Las Vegas - Los Angeles -Yosemite National Park - San Francisco.
    This is roughly 4000 miles and we have three weeks to do it in. Most days we will only stop over for one night although we will hopefully stay for 2 nights in Chicago, Salt Lake City and San Francisco and 3 nights in Las Vegas. Daily driving hours vary between 5 hours and 8 hours (there are a couple of days where it is only 3 to 4 hours).
    I would appreciate any advice from people who have done similar road trips and would be grateful if you could point out any problems in my itinerary (as it stands at present). I am slightly worried that there will be too much driving and not enough sight seeing.
    We are from the UK so probably have no idea of travelling vast distances like in the USA.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Doable.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With 3 weeks you certainly have enough time to enjoy your trip, but you are right in thinking that time can soon dissapear. By the time you have calculated detours in and out of City's and attractions into the mileage you will probably add another 10%, or say end up covering 4500 miles. If your travelling days were to be a fairly lesurely 7 hour drive, you could cover the distance in 11 or 12 days leaving you with up to 10 days to decide on how to spend them. Yellowstone would be another place that you would want to spend at least 2 nights and possibly three.

    I would [if possible] end your trip in LA and go from Vegas to Yosemite via Death valley and the Tioga pass and then from SF head south down the coast to LA. That would have the advantage of having the Oceanside viewpoints on your side of the road if you plan on taking the coast road. It is very scenic and highly recommended but you would need to make an overnight stop, possibly in the Cambria area.

    Everyone has different styles and pace of travel but the beauty of planning your own is to get to at the pace you want to while choosing how to get the best from it to suit your interests. Keep researching and studying the map and as your trip unfolds keep asking questions along the way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I think your trip looks pretty reasonable, but I've got a few suggestions.

    First, Yellowstone is a huge place where you really need to plan to stay at least 2 or 3 nights. While you are there, you should also consider making the trip though Grand Teton.

    For that matter, your trip seems to be very city focused. There are a whole lot of National Parks that could very easily be worked into your plans. For example, Bryce Canyon and Zion would be right on your way between Salt Lake and the Grand Canyon. In California, it appears you would be skipping Death Valley, Sequoia, and Yosemite. If you do LA to SF in one day, you also would not even have time to drive the scenic coast highway.

    Now, if you really like cities, you don't have to include these kinds of places, but if its me, I'd be looking to add a lot more of the natural wonders of the US that aren't going to be anything like anything you'll find in the UK.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Other things to Consider

    As has been pointed out, you have time enough for your stated journey. Your concerns now should be how to make the best use of that time. While distances in the United States can seem daunting to our European visitors, the road system is up to it, and the roughly 4500 miles of driving you'll have to do will 'only' require about nine days of solid driving. Those nine days can, of course, be spread out over your entire vacation. So roughly three days a week on the road and four days for sight seeing. Not a bad ratio. On similar long-term RoadTrips I've taken in the past, a good mix of driving and staying put seems to work best, so that you don't really tire of either one. That seems to be what you have planned. But some specific things you should keep in mind.

    While you'll obviously have your passports, if you are considering taking the shortcut through Ontario from Niagara Falls to Detroit, be sure to check with your car hire company as to whether you can take the car across the border. Some companies will charge you extra for this, some will sharply decrease the miles you are allowed 'free', some won't charge you anything, but all will have to supply extra documentation for you to show that you have insurance coverage for and permission to take the car into Canada.

    Between Yellowstone and Salt Lake City, I'd recommend that you use US-89 instead of the Interstate (Motorway) I-15. It will be a much more relaxed journey and there are number of hidden treasures along it that will let you experience some great scenery without the crowds. Check out some of these.

    Your general route makes it much easier for you to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon than the South Rim. Most of the pictures you've seen of the Canyon are of the more frequently visited South Rim. For most people the South Rim is easier to get to (from I-40) and it had a road which runs along the rim for about 10 miles. But there are no bridges over the Canyon and so for you it would mean an extra 400 miles or so to get to the South Rim. Fear not. The North Rim is no booby prize. Having far fewer visitors, it is a much more serene experience. I heartily recommend having a meal at the El Tovar Lodge. The view is, of course, spectacular and especially for lunch the cost can be quite reasonable. Your route from Salt Lake City would be I-15/US-89 (bringing you within easy side trip distance of Cedar Breaks National Monument) to Kanab UT, and then alt-US-89 to Jacob Lake AZ. From there AZ-67 takes you to the North Rim. To get from there to Las Vegas, you'd backtrack into Utah and take UT-9 west through Zion National Park to I-15 south. The one 'bad' thing about this route is that UT-9 goes through a portion of the National Park that includes a tunnel and some switchbacks and you will have to pay the entry fee to the park even if all you do is drive the road. But don't (just drive the road, that is) - be sure to take the shuttle bus into the park and take one of the hikes.

    AZBuck

  5. #5

    Default

    Thank you so much for your comments and suggestions for my road trip next year. We will definitely change our route to use the US-89 instead of the I-15. We will also take up your recommendations for the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, lunch at El Tovar Lodge etc.
    I have checked with the car hire company that we are hoping to use and they are happy with us taking the short cut through Canada. Kind regards. Jane

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With 3 weeks you certainly have enough time to enjoy your trip, but you are right in thinking that time can soon dissapear. By the time you have calculated detours in and out of City's and attractions into the mileage you will probably add another 10%, or say end up covering 4500 miles. If your travelling days were to be a fairly lesurely 7 hour drive, you could cover the distance in 11 or 12 days leaving you with up to 10 days to decide on how to spend them. Yellowstone would be another place that you would want to spend at least 2 nights and possibly three.

    I would [if possible] end your trip in LA and go from Vegas to Yosemite via Death valley and the Tioga pass and then from SF head south down the coast to LA. That would have the advantage of having the Oceanside viewpoints on your side of the road if you plan on taking the coast road. It is very scenic and highly recommended but you would need to make an overnight stop, possibly in the Cambria area.

    Everyone has different styles and pace of travel but the beauty of planning your own is to get to at the pace you want to while choosing how to get the best from it to suit your interests. Keep researching and studying the map and as your trip unfolds keep asking questions along the way.
    Thank you for your comments Dave. We will try and push through North Dakota without a stop in order to spend 2 days in Yellowstone as both you and Midwest Michael have pointed out that we will need more than one day there. Unfortunately, we have already booked our flights into NYC and out of San Francisco so we cannot finish in LA now. We had considered driving the PCH but will have to decide between that and Yosemite. Unfortunately I do not think we will have time to do both.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I think your trip looks pretty reasonable, but I've got a few suggestions.

    First, Yellowstone is a huge place where you really need to plan to stay at least 2 or 3 nights. While you are there, you should also consider making the trip though Grand Teton.

    For that matter, your trip seems to be very city focused. There are a whole lot of National Parks that could very easily be worked into your plans. For example, Bryce Canyon and Zion would be right on your way between Salt Lake and the Grand Canyon. In California, it appears you would be skipping Death Valley, Sequoia, and Yosemite. If you do LA to SF in one day, you also would not even have time to drive the scenic coast highway.

    Now, if you really like cities, you don't have to include these kinds of places, but if its me, I'd be looking to add a lot more of the natural wonders of the US that aren't going to be anything like anything you'll find in the UK.
    Thank you for your comments Michael. I have taken on board what you say about needing at least 2 days in Yellowstone and will adjust the itinerary accordingly. We do have Yosemite on our route already as we are going there after LA and before SF. Unfortunately we may not have time for the Pacific Coast Highway but maybe another time? You are right that our trip is fairly city focused but we do hope to see as many of the natural wonders as we can that are close to our route. Definitely Bryce Canyon and Zion have been highlighted on my map. We will just detour off our route whenever we can.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default I chose Yosemite with no regrets.

    We had considered driving the PCH but will have to decide between that and Yosemite.
    I've had to make the same decision in the past. Being from the UK and having plenty of spectacular coastline to choose from we opted for Yosemite. It's a choice I have never regretted as it turned out to be one of [if not 'the'] my favourite places to visit, ever!! [ and all the National parks are spectacular.] I would highly recommend you try and stay a couple of nights here giving you at least a day and a half to explore.

    I'm not a big fan of the city but I really enjoyed San Francisco. Only you know how important visiting LA is to your itinerary, but if it's 50/50 I would think about cutting it out and avoiding the slow going urban sprawl and perhaps go from vegas through Death Valley and across the spectacular Tioga pass [CA120] into Yosemite and on to San Fran. Personally I think it would make a more relaxing end to your trip and give you more time out of the car, but the beauty of creating your own roadtrip is that it's 100% your trip and you get to choose. ;-)

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I'm not a big fan of the city but I really enjoyed San Francisco. Only you know how important visiting LA is to your itinerary, but if it's 50/50 I would think about cutting it out and avoiding the slow going urban sprawl and perhaps go from vegas through Death Valley and across the spectacular Tioga pass [CA120] into Yosemite and on to San Fran. Personally I think it would make a more relaxing end to your trip and give you more time out of the car, but the beauty of creating your own roadtrip is that it's 100% your trip and you get to choose. ;-)
    Like you Dave, I would prefer to miss out LA altogether and spend more time seeing Death Valley and driving the Tioga Pass. However, I am taking this trip with my 21 year old daughter and she is really keen on going to LA. I will try and change her mind over the coming 8 months or so before we go.

  10. #10

    Default Is it worth hiring an E-tolling device

    I am hiring a car from National for my road trip in September from New York to San Francisco. I am wondering if it is worth hiring a E- tolling device like Fastrack. I am unsure whether the same E-Tolling device would work through all the States I am travelling. I would be grateful for some advice on this.

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about this trip in the same thread.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-27-2013 at 07:12 AM. Reason: Merged Threads

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